“This commemoration is hardly celebrated by the Roma and Sinti populations in Italy, to put it blankly, many don’t even know it exists. Let’s say stop to those rumours that Nomads wander about without a fixed abode: 80% of us own a home and are living in a city”. The photograpgh was taken by Massimo Conversi, Chairman of the ‘Opera Nomadi’, contacted by Interris.it on occassion of the International Day of Roma populations. This commemoration comes at a particolar historical moment, where ethnicity is back on the foreground again in political gatherings, where ethnic identity is of importance in obtaining electoral consensus.
The economic crisis and fears have been a direct cause for this, the colour of the skin, the ‘different’ culture, likely risk considering them all n the same bunch, branded ‘patented’ criminals, which, in one way or the other are attributed to that race. And from here the risk of racial discrimination, which does not lie far. Of course, it is not wrong to punish those who breach the law, but it is wrong to propose proscription-lists only because they belong to the same ethnic group.
Even so, this concept is never stressed enough especially on the alleged ‘day of Integration’. It’s done by the Roma, who live a daily malaise and ostracismi in the Italian towns it’s not done by the authorities either, who dismiss the appointment with another appointment. In short, the triumph of hypocricy.
But who the Roma and the Sinti? They are part of the ethnic groups that speak the Romani language and originate from North India. At times they speak dialects incomprehensible even to many othersand principally live In central and east Europe, in the Balkans, but exist in America too. According to recent data, it is estimated that people belonging to these populations defined as Nomads account for approximately 200 thousand, but 80% of them actually own a home. In many Italian cities “new” Nomad camps, are continually being constructed, often costly and inadequate; which not surprisingly are run by Italians and not the Roma, as magistrate enquiries have found these last months- often set up for illegitimate profit-making purposes.
In these camps a perverse system is enacted: the spaces often alocated to them lie on the outskirts of the city, they lack the essential requirements in order for them to lead a dignified life. Moreover, they lack hygienic facilities, water and power supply. The Roma are therefore obliged to make do with what they have. Many often are marginalised, they are excluded and undergo real and proper violations on their rights; above all children who are denied education, adequate housing, medical aid and the right to play. One could say that their culture is to be blamed for this…Well, only in part; because the majority of Roma youths would go to school, even though they would experience the classes as the place where to grow and not be branded as gravediggers.
During election-campaigns, parties suddenly remember the issue, and the problem is dismissed in a negative way, “enough with camps, enough with slums”. Uno slap in the face to integration, that brings many voters; but once the objective has been accomplished, the issue on Nomads comes as a last priority to be taken up again only in cases of emergency. The Church has a different standpoint on this. In 2011 Benedict XVI receved in audience the Roma, Sinti and gypsies, while end October 2015, Pope Francis has invited them to a pilgrimage to the holy Christian places and will then receive them in a special hearing. Ignorance can only be defeated through dialogue; on both sides.
In these areas it achieves a perverse system: usually their intended spaces are in the suburbs of the cities, lack the necessary foundations to ensure that those who will livea life of dignity. Mostly without toilets, without water, without electricity. They are thenforced to live as they can. Very often are marginalized, are excluded and suffer realhuman rights violations; especially children are denied an education, adequatehousing, health coverage and the right to play. It will be said: partly it is the fault of their culture … That is, only in part; because most of the boys and girls at school wouldus ROMs also if it allowed them to live classes as a place of growth and not be held upas gravediggers.
During election campaigns are parties of the issue, and the theme is ridden negatively,”just fields, just the slums”. A slap at integration, leading many voters; but once you reach the goal, the nomadic theme is relegated to “cantina” and addressed only if it isan emergency. Not so from the point of view of the Church. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI received in audience the Roma people, sinti and Gypsies, while by the end ofOctober 2015 Pope Francesco invited them to a pilgrimage on places of Christianity and then receive them in a special hearing. Ignorance is defeated only with dialogue;by both sides.